How Singapore Is Primed to Build Fintech Talent

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Fintech is a burgeoning industry and leveraging it is a step in the right direction for Singapore to become the world’s first “Smart Nation”—a city-state connected and empowered by technology in all facets of everyday life.

Last November, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) informed the country of its commitment to invest in the fintech sector by staging the Fintech Festival in collaboration with The Association of Banks Singapore. This event saw participation from around 50 countries and more than 10,000 participants. It even saw appearances from Microsoft, Paypal, Citi, and other market biggies.

Why fintech?

There is no dearth of financial startups, especially in the Asian markets of China, Japan, India, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia. This wave of fintech startups has also ignited Singapore to position itself as a global leader in the competitive economic sphere.

The impact of technology on finance in recent years has been unfathomable. According to The Pulse of Fintech, global investments of US$19.1 billion was pumped into fintech companies in 2015 alone. The Singapore government and the central bank are not shying away from funding fintech projects with “proof of concept” either.

It can be argued that the startup culture, especially the rise of fintech startups, is here to stay. Innumerable employment opportunities with skill requirements and advanced job responsibilities are undoubtedly being developed, and the people of Singapore should be ready to embrace them.

How is Singapore adapting to fintech?

According to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), 2014 saw 15,000 vacancies in jobs for technology professionals, and the situation is said to only get worse. While fintech startups can get funding through crowdfunding, schemes by MAS such as the FSTI, and other opportunities, what the industry currently lacks is a supply of qualified candidates.

With the country transitioning toward digital banking and fintech, niche employment requirements in data analytics, cyber security, and application development will surge in demand this year. However, the IDA predicts Singapore will see a shortage of 30,000 information technology professionals.

What is the country’s next move toward fintech talent fulfillment?

Now that the elephant in the room has been recognized and acknowledged, Singapore is taking measures to bridge the gap in cultivating a pool of fintech talent.

New coding schools to enhance skill sets for tech jobs

Supporting the Smart Nation initiative is the launch of two new schools: Alpha Camp and Byte Academy.

The people behind the New York-based Byte Academy believes that Singapore is an ideal place to launch its first international campus. The school is also on board for the Tech Immersion and Placement Program by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, which aims to convert non-ICT professionals into industry-ready ones.

Alpha Camp is also settling in Singapore. With campuses in Hong Kong and Taiwan, it now looks to train Singaporeans. According to founder Bernard Chan, “Alpha Camp’s intensive programs are designed to train individuals, with or without prior knowledge and skills, to be technology-fluent and well connected within the industry.”

MAS in agreement with local polytechnics to develop fintech skills

MAS has signed agreements with five polytechnics in Singapore that involve reviewing their curricula over a span of three years. This step ensures that graduates fresh out of universities will have the required skills to land jobs in the fintech sector. Students will also have the opportunity to get the lay of the land via internships with startups, venture capital firms, bank innovation units, and other regulatory bodies. Additionally, a pool of 100 mentors will help in facilitating projects between students and potential industry partners.

The growing importance of SkillsFuture

In the fintech industry, you can not pass off as a jack of all trades. Financial IT jobs at large banks or even startups demand niche job skills to fill positions in compliance, security, user experience (UX), and legal roles, among others. Singaporeans who possess a specific talent and are unsure of what that can translate into can take advantage of SkillsFuture. This is a national movement enabling Singaporeans to realize their true potential through a plethora of initiatives and programs.

CFE efforts for a futuristic Singapore economy

The Future Jobs and Skills subcommittee of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is set to make recommendations on shaping Singapore to compete in the global economy in the coming years. SkillsFuture was a direct result of the Economic Strategies Committee whose final recommendations sought the need to invest in the people of Singapore and in restructuring the Singaporean economy to drive the country’s productivity.

This year, the subcommittee will examine the country’s demographic and technological trends affecting employment requirements, preparing workers for what the future job industry will hold.

These initiatives—including the ones that have already been implemented—coupled with those in the pipeline, will allow Singapore to successfully hone tech talent. Mesitis, BankBazaar.sg, and Fastacash are some of the fintech startups providing employment opportunities to those who hone the skill set for this booming industry.

This article first appeared on Tech in Asia.

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